Select Committee on European Union Thirty-Sixth Report


Chapter 3: Look ahead to 2007-08

Inquiries and Reports in the coming months

THE REFORM TREATY

108.  The Select Committee has resolved that the Committee and its seven Sub-Committees will undertake a detailed analysis of the Reform Treaty, in order to inform the work of the House in advance of any debate on a ratification bill.

COMMISSION'S ANNUAL WORK PROGRAMME

109.  The Select Committee will examine the Commission's 2008 Annual Legislative and Work Programme. We will revisit our Report on the 2008 Annual Policy Strategy and the responses from the Commission and the Government.

THE EURO

110.  In this inquiry, Sub-Committee A (Economic and Financial Affairs) will take a look at some of the macroeconomic issues relating to the Euro, ten years after its launch. The inquiry will focus on the currency's impact on capital markets, trade, development, and exchange rates. The Stability and Growth Pact and the planned enlargement of the Eurozone will also be considered.

THE COMMISSION'S REVIEW OF THE SINGLE MARKET

111.  Sub-Committee B (Internal Market) aims to assess the current state of the Single Market, investigate areas for improvement and look at lessons learned so far. The inquiry will explore in detail three sectors: energy, telecoms, and financial services. The Commission's Review of the Single Market is expected to be published in November 2007, and the Report will contribute to the debate which will follow that publication. The Sub-Committee has been hearing about a possible loss of impetus and about poor implementation of rules from witnesses including representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses and British Chambers of Commerce, Ofgem, Ofcom, the Financial Services Authority, Gaz de France, Centrica, the National Grid, the Commission, businesseurope, the European Consumers' Organisation, the European Regulators' Group for Electricity and Gas, and the European Trade Union Confederation.

THE EU AND RUSSIA

112.  Relations between the EU and Russia will be the subject for an inquiry by Sub-Committee C (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy). The inquiry will explore the key characteristics of the Russian system and their implications for foreign and security policy; what the objectives of EU policy towards Russia should be; how well the EU's current policy is working; and the Russian view of and policies towards the EU.

THE FUTURE OF THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY (CAP)

113.  Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) will, in this inquiry, be looking to form a view of what the EU should be seeking to achieve in the 2008 CAP 'Health Check' and in the 2009 EU budget review, against the background of medium-to-long-term policy objectives. The level of funding support for EU agriculture, and the ways in which the allocated funds can best be used, will be the key topics.

THE COMMISSION'S GREEN PAPER ON WILLS AND SUCCESSION

114.  This Report will publish the evidence given to Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) by Professor Jonathan Harris of the University of Birmingham and a Ministry of Justice official on the subject of the Commission's Green Paper on Wills and Succession. The Green Paper acknowledged that it would be inconceivable to harmonise substantive rules relating to wills and succession, but it posed questions relating to cases where there is a foreign/transnational element, which the Sub-Committee explored with the witnesses.

THE IMPACT OF THE REFORM TREATY ON THE AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE

115.  Following agreement on the text of the Reform Treaty, Sub-Committee E will embark on a substantial inquiry into the changes that the Reform Treaty will make in the EU's Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). The Report will set out clearly the future nature of co-operation in FSJ matters and highlight the main developments that would be made by the ratification of the Reform Treaty. Issues could include the change in legislative procedure and the role of the European Parliament, the scope of the UK's opt-in and the implications of the opt-in on the UK's participation in the AFSJ, the changes to the Schengen protocol, the legal basis for criminal law measures, the emergency brake and flexibility procedures in criminal law and policing, the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over criminal law and policing and civil law and asylum and immigration, the adequacy of the special arrangements for family law measures, and the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the AFSJ.

FRONTEX

116.  Sub-Committee F (Internal Affairs) will conduct an inquiry into Frontex, the agency for the management of operational co-operation at the external borders of the Member States.

117.  The Sub-Committee will publish evidence from the Commission, the European Parliament, and the Executive Director and other officials of Frontex, and use expertise gathered during a visit to the Poland/Ukraine border.

THE PROPOSED DIRECTIVE ON TIMESHARE AND OTHER LONG-TERM HOLIDAY PRODUCTS

118.  There is considerable dissatisfaction with the protection currently offered by the existing Directive to consumers of timeshare and other long-term holiday products. The Commission's proposed replacement is intended to strengthen that protection. This inquiry, undertaken by Sub-Committee G (Social Policy and Consumer Affairs), by taking evidence from a range of expert witnesses, has the potential to make a valuable contribution to the development of the final form of the new Directive. Witnesses include representatives of the Alliance of Timeshare Consumers in Europe; the Organisation for Timeshare in Europe; the Office of Fair Trading; the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; and academic legal experts.

ORGAN DONATION AND TRANSPLANTATION

119.  A Commission Communication was published in May 2007 with the aim of which intends to stimulating discussion of the issues that arise increasingly now that organ transplantation has come to be a successful form of treatment for medical conditions involving the failure of the kidney, liver, lung and heart. The inquiry undertaken by Sub-Committee G has the potential to raise the profile of the issues at stake, in particular the current shortage of organs which are available for donation. Witnesses will give evidence relating to the medical, organisational and ethical issues which arise.


 
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